Understanding right-of-way laws can play a major role in your safety both as a motorist and a pedestrian. However, it’s important to consider that right-of-way laws can vary from one state to another.

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Do you live in Massachusetts? If so, the following overview will cover the basics of right-of-way laws in the Commonwealth. Remembering the information here when you’re navigating the state’s roads (again, whether in a vehicle or on foot) may help you guard against being hurt in an avoidable collision.

What You Need to Know About Right-Of-Way Laws in Massachusetts

Right-of-way laws govern who may proceed first in various traffic-related circumstances. Their existence helps to prevent confusion on the road, which in turn helps to minimize the chances of accidents occurring. That said, such laws are only effective if people understand and abide by them.

The following are examples of situations in which you may need to possess a basic understanding of right-of-way laws in Massachusetts:

At a Three-Way or a Four-Way Stop

You likely already know that when two or more vehicles arrive at an intersection featuring a three-way or four-way stop, the vehicle that arrives at the intersection first is the vehicle that may proceed first, the vehicle that arrives second may proceed second, etc.

However, there may be instances in which vehicles arrive at these intersections at essentially the same moment. In this scenario, the vehicle to the right may proceed first, and the vehicle to the left may proceed next. Of course, if there is a red light or a stop sign, all motorists must come to a complete stop before proceeding through the intersection.

When Making a Left-Turn

Oncoming vehicles virtually always have the right-of-way when a motorist wishes to make a left turn. Even if an oncoming driver is speeding, a motorist who doesn’t wait for oncoming traffic to pass them before making a left may potentially be considered negligent if their failure to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before making their turn results in an accident.

A pedestrian in a crosswalk always has the right of way when crossing with a Walk signal or green light.

At Crosswalks

A pedestrian in a crosswalk always has the right of way when crossing with a Walk signal or green light. Even if a pedestrian is crossing without these signals, it’s best for a motorist to exercise extreme caution, allowing a pedestrian to cross if they have already begun doing so.

In general, it’s vital to drive extremely carefully when in the vicinity of pedestrians. Although any motor vehicle accident has the potential to cause significant harm, if a motorist strikes a pedestrian, the victim’s injuries might be particularly severe, as they don’t have the protection of a seatbelt, air bags, or the metal frame of an enclosed vehicle to protect them.

Pedestrians should also keep in mind that, along with following right-of-way laws, they should avoid walking while intoxicated. Many don’t realize that, in regard to one’s own personal safety, statistics indicate that walking while drunk can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. To ensure everyone is safe on the road, pedestrians must exercise the same degree of caution that motorists exercise.

Making a Right on Red

A motorist may make a right turn at a red light in Massachusetts unless there is a sign indicating they may not make a right on red. Before proceeding, though, they must make a full stop, and they must yield the right-of-way to other motorists and to any pedestrians in a crosswalk.

At a T-Intersection

The motorists on the street that ends at a T-intersection must always yield the right-of-way to motorists on the street that continues at the intersection. This is the case regardless of whether the T-intersection has a Stop sign or other such traffic signal.

Unfortunately, even if you’re a responsible individual who always obeys right-of-way laws in Massachusetts (or anywhere else), you may still be harmed in an accident if someone else disobeys or ignores such laws. If this ever happens, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses associated with your injuries.

Strongly consider reviewing your case with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney for more information about your legal options. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., a member of our team will gladly explain how you may proceed. If you hire us, we’ll offer the aggressive representation you deserve, helping you pursue the full amount of compensation for which you may be eligible. Learn more about how we may help by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900.

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If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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